The wraps are off the most exciting Astra drop-top ever. This sleek machine is a flagship convertible that will sit at the very peak of Vauxhall’s new family hatchback range.
Boasting only two seats and a driving experience that’s every bit as focused as in the forthcoming Astra VXR, the new roadster will be one of the most desirable cars ever to come from the Luton company.
Set to replace the current four-seater TwinTop, it will be a much more head-turning and upmarket machine. It will gun for sporty roadsters from Volkswagen – such as the BlueSport and upcoming Scirocco CC – as well as providing a cut-price rival to the Audi TT Roadster and Mercedes SLK.
As you can see, the Vauxhall certainly packs visual punch, adding a muscular stance, shorter overhangs front and rear, a steeply raked windscreen
and a chunky tail to the handsome Astra’s shape.
Key to its look will be a folding metal roof. This will slot behind the occupants’ heads under a sporty tonneau cover that incorporates twin roll-over humps. Completing the look are neat details such as front spotlamps, lowered side skirts, twin chrome exhaust pipes and a prominent rear brake light.
Inside, the roadster will borrow extensively from the hatch, adding a sports steering wheel and figure-hugging seats to help create the right feel. It’s similar in size to a three-door Astra, and while there’s space for only two people, boot capacity will be generous. Vauxhall has learned from the TwinTop, so expect the roadster’s folding roof to be even more compact.
Under the skin, extensive strengthening of the A-pillar and rear subframes will make the newcomer one of the stiffest vehicles in its class, laying the groundwork for a responsive and agile driving experience. Although there won’t be a VXR version, the flagship car will get the same powerplant as the hot hatch – a turbocharged 2.0-litre. It will produce 270bhp, so expect 0-60mph in six seconds and a top speed of 150mph.
In addition, there will be new 150bhp 1.4-litre petrol turbo and 170bhp 2.0-litre CDTI turbodiesel units. The new roadster is still some way off, though.
Vauxhall will launch its five-door Astra later this year, with the three-door and Sport Tourer estate models following in 2010. After that, the maker will turn its attention to a new Zafira MPV. Only then will the drop-top be launched. In the meantime, the company is close to completing a deal which will see it and European sister brand Opel sold to Canadian car parts giant Magna.